High Alert Medication: This medication bears a heightened risk of causing significant patient harm when it is used in error.


Trade Name(s)

  • Dobutrex

Ther. Class.

Pharm. Class.


Short-term (<48 hr) management of heart failure caused by depressed contractility from organic heart disease or surgical procedures.


Stimulates beta1(myocardial)-adrenergic receptors with relatively minor effect on heart rate or peripheral blood vessels.

Therapeutic Effect(s):

Increased cardiac output without significantly increased heart rate.


Absorption: Administered by IV infusion only, resulting in complete bioavailability.

Distribution: Unknown.

Metabolism and Excretion: Metabolized by the liver and other tissues.

Half-life: 2 min.

TIME/ACTION PROFILE (inotropic effects)

IV1–2 min10 minbrief (min)


Contraindicated in:

  • Hypersensitivity to dobutamine or bisulfites;
  • Idiopathic hypertrophic subaortic stenosis.

Use Cautiously in:

  • History of hypertension (increased risk of exaggerated pressor response);
  • MI;
  • Atrial fibrillation (pretreatment with digitalis glycosides recommended);
  • History of ventricular atopic activity (may be exacerbated);
  • Hypovolemia (correct before administration);
  • Pregnancy or lactation (safety not established).

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

CNS: headache

Resp: shortness of breath

CV: hypertension, increased heart rate, premature ventricular contractions, angina pectoris, arrhythmias, hypotension, palpitations

GI: nausea, vomiting

Local: phlebitis

Misc: hypersensitivity reactions including skin rash, fever, bronchospasm or eosinophilia, nonanginal chest pain

* CAPITALS indicate life-threatening.
Underline indicate most frequent.



  • Use with nitroprusside; may have a synergistic effect on ↑ cardiac output.
  • Beta blockers may negate the effect of dobutamine.
  • ↑ risk of arrhythmias or hypertension with some anesthetics (cyclopropane, halothane), MAO inhibitors, oxytocics, or tricyclic antidepressants.


IV (Adults and Children) 2.5–15 mcg/kg/min titrate to response (up to 40 mcg/kg/min).

IV Neonates 2–15 mcg/kg/min.


Injection: 12.5 mg/mL in 20-, 40-, and 100-mL vials

Premixed infusion: 250 mg/250 mL, 500 mg/500 mL, 500 mg/250 mL, 1000 mg/250 mL


  • Monitor BP, heart rate, ECG, pulmonary capillary wedge pressure (PCWP), cardiac output, CVP, and urinary output continuously during the administration. Report significant changes in vital signs or arrhythmias. Consult physician for parameters for pulse, BP, or ECG changes for adjusting dose or discontinuing medication.
  • Palpate peripheral pulses and assess appearance of extremities routinely throughout dobutamine administration. Notify physician if quality of pulse deteriorates or if extremities become cold or mottled.

Lab Test Considerations: Monitor potassium concentrations during therapy; may cause hypokalemia.

  • Monitor electrolytes, BUN, creatinine, and prothrombin time weekly during prolonged therapy.

Toxicity Overdose:

If overdose occurs, reduction or discontinuation of therapy is the only treatment necessary because of the short duration of dobutamine.

Potential Diagnoses


  • High Alert: IV vasoactive medications are potentially dangerous. Have second practitioner independently check original order, dosage calculations, and infusion pump settings. Do not confuse dobutamine with dopamine. If available as floor stock, store in separate areas.
  • Correct hypovolemia with volume expanders before initiating dobutamine therapy.
    • Administer into a large vein and assess administration site frequently. Extravasation may cause pain and inflammation.

IV Administration

  • Continuous Infusion: Diluent: Vials must be diluted before use. Dilute 250–1000 mg in 250–500 mL of D5W, 0.9% NaCl, 0.45% NaCl, D5/0.45% NaCl, D5/0.9% NaCl, or LR. Admixed infusions stable for 48 hr at room temperature and 7 days if refrigerated. Premixed infusions are already diluted and ready to use.Concentration: 0.25–5 mg/mL.
  • Rate:Based on patient's weight (see Route/Dosage section). Administer via infusion pump to ensure precise amount delivered. Titrate to patient response (heart rate, presence of ectopic activity, BP, urine output, CVP, PCWP, cardiac index). Dose should be titrated so heart rate does not increase by >10% of baseline.
  • Y-Site Compatibility
    • amifostine
    • amikacin
    • amiodarone
    • anidulafungin
    • argatroban
    • atracurium
    • atropine
    • aztreonam
    • bivalirudin
    • bumetanide
    • calcium chloride
    • calcium gluconate
    • caspofungin
    • cimetidine
    • ciprofloxacin
    • cisatracurium
    • cyclosporine
    • cladribine
    • dexmedetomidine
    • diazepam
    • digoxin
    • diltiazem
    • diphenhydramine
    • docetaxel
    • dopamine
    • doxorubicin liposome
    • doxycycline
    • enalaprilat
    • epinephrine
    • eptifibatide
    • erythromycin
    • esmolol
    • etoposide phosphate
    • famotidine
    • fenoldopam
    • fentanyl
    • fluconazole
    • gemcitabine
    • gentamicin
    • granisetron
    • haloperidol
    • hydromorphone
    • insulin
    • isoproterenol
    • labetalol
    • levofloxacin
    • lidocaine
    • linezolid
    • lorazepam
    • magnesium sulfate
    • meperidine
    • methylprednisolone sodium succinate
    • metoclopramide
    • metoprolol
    • milrinone
    • morphine
    • nafcillin
    • nicardipine
    • nitroglycerin
    • norepinephrine
    • ondansetron
    • oxaliplatin
    • palonosetron
    • pancuronium
    • phenylephrine
    • potassium chloride
    • procainamide
    • prochlorperazine
    • promethazine
    • propofol
    • propranolol
    • protamine
    • ranitidine
    • remifentanil
    • streptokinase
    • tacrolimus
    • theophylline
    • thiotepa
    • tigecycline
    • tirofiban
    • tobramycin
    • tolazoline
    • vancomycin
    • vasopressin
    • vecuronium
    • verapamil
    • voriconazole
    • zidovudine
  • Y-Site Incompatibility
    • acyclovir
    • alteplase
    • aminophylline
    • amphotericin B cholesteryl sulfate
    • ampicillin
    • ampicillin/sulbactam
    • amphotericin B
    • cefazolin
    • cefoxitin
    • ceftriaxone
    • cefuroxime
    • chloramphenicol
    • ertapenem
    • foscarnet
    • ganciclovir
    • hydrocortisone sodium succinate
    • indomethacin
    • ketorolac
    • lansoprazole
    • micafungin
    • pantoprazole
    • pemetrexed
    • penicillin G potassium
    • phenytoin
    • phytonadione
    • piperacillin/tazobactam
    • sodium bicarbonate
    • thiopental
    • trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole
    • warfarin

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Explain to patient the rationale for instituting this medication and the need for frequent monitoring.
  • Advise patient to inform nurse immediately if chest pain; dyspnea; or numbness, tingling, or burning of extremities occurs.
  • Instruct patient to notify nurse immediately of pain or discomfort at the site of administration.
  • Instruct caregiver on proper care of IV equipment.
    • Instruct caregiver to report signs of worsening HF (shortness of breath, orthopnea, decreased exercise tolerance), abdominal pain, and nausea or vomiting to health care professional promptly.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

Increase in cardiac output.
  • Improved hemodynamic parameters.
  • Increased urine output.
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